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walking in Scotland

I'm an older solo woman planning a walking trip in Scotland, based in Inverness. A hotel there is able to direct me to trailheads and suggest transportation, but the hotel is expensive. I thought I'd check in with other hikers to see if anyone has found an Airbnb or small hostel type accommodations to be good in the area. If you have other suggestions for a central place from which to take day hikes of 6 - 8 miles in length, please let me know that as well. I'll be in Scotland from August 20 to Sept 6, 2020. Thank you.

Posted by
69 posts

Betsy, for hiking ideas look at www.walkhighlands.co.uk That website is a great resource for hiking in Scotland, with good detailed descriptions for hikes that you can actually follow. I spent 3 nights solo in Inverness a few years ago, and spent one whole day at Culloden and Clava Cairn, using the public bus and walking. A second day I walked the Caledonian Canal, and the afternoon of my arrival I did a walking tour of the town and the local history museum. I could have probably filled another day walking out on the Great Glen Way. I stayed at Ardross Glencairn Bed and Breakfast which was 51 GBP pn with breakfast, on the street with the cathedral.

Another place to consider is Ft. William which is accessible by train. I was with a Road Scholar group there, and we did several walks from the hotel door, Cow Hill, up the West Highlands Way to a hill fort, climbing Ben Nevis. There are other hikes in Glen Nevis if you look at the Walk Highlands website. You can also access the Great Glen Way along the Caledonian Canal and perhaps take a taxi up the glen and walk a ways back to Ft. William. You can get the train to Mallaig and access hikes from there using a taxi. Ft. William also has a worthwhile local museum and a lovely walkable waterfront, shops, pubs, and a large grocery store. I wouldn't recommend the hotel we stayed, expensive and not that nice.
I love hiking in Scotland and hope to return! You'll have a great time!

Posted by
915 posts

Hi, Betsy,

Just to confirm Laura's post, The Walk Highlands website is a great source for places to hike in Scotland. You didn't mention when you are travelling*, but we were able to get a room at the Travelodge Fairways in Inverness for 39 pounds in July. It wasn't the Ritz, but it was clean and comfortable, and next door to a 24 hour ASDA.

As Laura mentioned, there are some good hikes out of Mallaig. One of our favorites is from Bracorina along the northern shore of Loch Morar, and then over the hill to Tarbet on Loch Nevis. From there, you catch the 3:30 Western Isles boat back to Mallaig. You can take a taxi from Mallaig to Bracorina, or you can take the train to Morar and hike from there. The Bracorina to Tarbet hike is about five miles, although it's signposted seven.

Another favorite is Loch Coruisk to Sligachan on Skye. It's eight miles. The first couple of miles are uphill, but then it's downhill from Druim Hain into the Sligachan valley between the Red and Black Cuillins. You need to time that one carefully. You would have to take the Bella Jane from Elgol to Loch Coruisk to start on your hike. If it's raining, or has rained heavily the day before, you have to be careful, as you need to ford the River Scavaig on stepping stones before starting out. Also, unless there's someone meeting you at the Sligachan Hotel, you need to take the bus back to Broadford, and a taxi or hitch-hike back to Elgol. That is, if you're driving. If you're not driving, you could stay in Broadford, take the early bus to Elgol, and return to Broadford after your hike.

There are several really good hikes on Skye, and also on Eigg and Rum. Rum, in particular, has some really good mid and long distance hikes. However, you will really need a midge hat, and maybe repellent for your arms and hands. Midge hats run about ten pounds at most outdoor shops. Rum has more midges per square inch than anywhere in Scotland. Also , most of the hikes on Rum are one way in and out. There aren't many circular hikes.

One thing about the Walk Highlands site. They're not always accurate about the difficulty of hikes. They have a tendency to underestimate the difficulty. (At least in our opinion - you may find things more accurate) We've taken "one boot" hikes that could easily have been two or three.

Bring a compass and pick up OS maps for the areas in which you're hiking, if you plan to go far off the beaten path.

Best wishes for a wonderful time! Scotland is a great place for hiking and enjoying the outdoors.

Slainte!

Mike (Auchterless)

  • Oops! I just noticed that you're travelling late August into September. As many visitors to Scotland will be in the Edinburgh area for the Festival, you may have a slightly better choice of accommodation up north.
Posted by
479 posts

Hi Betsy
My first question would be why Inverness as a base? It is a perfectly decent working town, but not really in a good spot for walks and hikes in the true Highland scenery. I am sure there are some lovely walks around and about, but they will be largely flat and not venturing into the hills and mountains. If that is what you are looking for then, great, but if not then the other suggestions that you have already received would be well worth considering. If you are not planning the rent a car then your options for hikes will be much more limited as public transport varies from 'occasional' to 'non existent' in the Highlands.

Best wishes
Jacqui (Skyegirl)

Posted by
69 posts

Betsy ,
Reading the post about the OS Maps reminded me I forgot to mention them. I usually order the paper map before I go to an area to use to research hikes. The map comes with a code you can use to download the map to your phone through the OS website so when you walk you can see exactly where you are and not get lost. It doesn’t use data on your phone once you download it to use on the walks. You can also buy the maps once you get there and do the same thing if you have Wi-Fi.